The In Focus article in the Monitor regarding singing at Mass [“Singing at Mass is praying with the music,” The Monitor Magazine, Oct. 2019] evoked both memories and ongoing challenges. I recall several years ago when I was feeling particularly good having assembled enough quality voices for Christmas to sing “Born on a New Day” as sung by The King Singers. Msgr. [Sam] Sirianni [rector of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold] reminded me that, “It’s not how well your choir sings. It’s how well your congregation sings!”
Of course, he was right, as usual. In calling for the renewal of the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium [The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 1963] article 14 emphasized the full and active participation of the assembly in Mass. Other Church documents show that the focus is singing the Mass rather than singing at Mass. In fact, the reference states that that full participation is “the aim to be considered before all else.”
If that is our goal before all else, I would like to see an article asking music directors how well we are doing in achieving that goal. While I continue to be a great advocate for polyphony, I would love to learn which parishes in our diocese have been successful in achieving “full, conscious and active participation” demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.
What can these music directors and pastors teach us?
Name withheld upon request